We interviewed candidates for DC mayor and competitive council races for the April 1 primary, and recorded the conversations on video. We will be posting the videos for each subject area and each race over a few weeks. Here are the discussions about housing with candidates for Ward 1 on the DC Council. See all of the discussions here.
When I asked Ward 1 challenger Brianne Nadeau whether she supports the zoning update’s proposals to allow basement and garage apartments (“accessory dwellings), encourage more corner stores, and be more flexible about parking, she said she supports “all of [the proposals], yes.”
Her opponent, incumbent councilmember Jim Graham, had recently invited the Committee of 100 to speak against the DC zoning update at a meeting he convened for Ward 1 residents. Theirs was the only point of view represented at Graham’s town hall, and in publicizing the forum, Graham billed it as “an opportunity to explore what can be done to limit overdevelopment.”
Nadeau doesn’t think Graham’s concerns are well-founded.
The first, the accessory dwellings and basement apartments: that gets to ... creating more affordability, creating more density where it’s appropriate. The corner stores: creating a vibrant street front, that’s what people want in their neighborhoods. Everybody wants to be able to go outside and grab a newspaper or coffee.
I have found that where I am on U Street, in the 14th and U corridor, we have a lot of high rises going up that don’t need as much parking as we thought. My theory on parking in these buildings is if you build it they will come, and if you don’t they will take transit.
Because our zoning code has not been revised for 60 years, we are losing opportunities to really serve our communities better, to really envision what our communities could be. I think the revisions are smart. They have taken into consideration, for 2 years of forums now, many community concerns. And they’ve moved, so the original plan has changed to take into consideration community concerns.
I talk to people who are concerned. They live in historic districts. They don’t want to see eyesores built in their neighborhoods, and I understand that ... but I think we need to create more opportunities for affordability and dynamic space in our neighborhoods, and I think that’s what the zoning code revision will do.
Ward 1 (and Ward 2) residents who haven’t yet spoken on the zoning update can testify on Wednesday at the final public hearing.
This exchange was part of a longer conversation about transportation with Nadeau, where she also spoke up in favor of reforming the Residential Permit Parking (RPP) program, strongly advocated for bus lanes on 16th Street, and talked about her advocacy for the 15th Street cycle track while a member of ANC 1B.
Listen to the whole discussion below. Tomorrow, we will look at Jim Graham’s comments on transportation.
We conducted the interviews at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw library and the Gibson Plaza apartments, a mixed-income market rate and affordable housing building also in the Shaw neighborhood. Thanks to Martin Moulton for organizing the space and recording and editing the videos.